Heinrich Eberbach

Heinrich Eberbach

Eberbach as an Oberst in the Panzerwaffe.
Born (1895-11-24)24 November 1895
Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire
Died 13 July 1992(1992-07-13) (aged 96)
Notzingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Deutsches Heer
Years of service 1914–20, 1935–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held Panzer-Regiment 35
5. Panzer-Brigade
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Other work Polizei (1920–35)

Heinrich Kurt Alfons Willy Eberbach (24 November 1895 – 13 July 1992) was a German General der Panzertruppe in the German Army of World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, awarded by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

World War I and interwar years

Heinrich Eberbach was born on 24 November 1895 in Stuttgart, the German Empire. Eberbach graduated with his Abitur (university-preparatory high school diploma) on 30 June 1914. On 1 July 1914, Eberbach joined the military service of the Imperial German Army.[1] With the outbreak of World War I, Eberbach's unit was deployed on the Western Front.[2] On 16 October 1914, Eberbach was wounded in his thigh by artillery shrapnel.[3] In September 1915, Eberbach was severely wounded, losing his nose, and was taken prisoner of war by French forces.[3] During the 1920s Eberbach was a police officer; in 1935 joined the Wehrmacht. In 1938 be became commander of a Panzer regiment, in the newly formed 4th Panzer Division under Generalmajor Georg-Hans Reinhardt.

World War II

Eberbach participated in the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939 and then in 1940 in the Battle of France. His unit supported General Manteuffel's offensive across the Meuse River in May. Shortly after the start of the June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, he was assigned as commander of the German 5th Panzer Brigade in Heinz Guderian's XXIV Panzer Corps. In March 1942 he was made commander of the 4th Panzer Division, in the German lines opposite the Russian town of Sukhinichi, roughly 120 miles west of Tula.

In late November 1942 Eberbach was appointed commander of the XLVIII Panzer Corps that had just been overrun in the initial days of Operation Uranus. Eberbach was soon wounded and evacuated, remaining hospitalized until February. He then became Inspector of the Armored Troops in the Home Army, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and promoted to Lieutenant General.

In November 1943 Eberbach became commander of troops around Nikopol and fought in battles around Zhitomir in the Soviet Union. In early 1944 Eberbach was promoted to the rank of General der Panzertruppe. During the Normandy invasion, he fought against the British landings along the 'Juno' and 'Sword' beaches. On 2 July he took command of "Panzer Group West" (5th Panzer Army) when Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg was wounded. On 9 August, this force was divided, with 5th Panzer Army retreating with the most damaged units; the effective units were reorganized as Panzergruppe Eberbach.

Eberbach was directed to lead this force in the counterattack through Mortain toward Avranches that was intended to cut off the Allied forces which had broken out of Normandy. According to Eberbach's post-war memoirs, he had no confidence in the attack. When General Warlimont of OKW arrived at his HQ on 1 August to "get a closer look at the situation", Eberbach told him that "the only possible solution was an immediate retreat to the Seine-Yonne line."[4] However, Warlimont denied Eberbach's request to withdraw, and instead confirmed the order to attack.

The attack failed, and most of Panzergruppe Eberbach and 7th Army was surrounded and destroyed in the Falaise Pocket. Eberbach escaped and was given command of the remnants of 7th Army on 21 August. On 31 August while out on a reconnaissance patrol, Eberbach was captured by British troops at Amiens.

Post World War II

At Trent Park POW camp.

Eberbach was held in a prisoner-of-war camp until 1948. Gersdorff participated in the work of the U.S. Army Historical Division, whereas, under the guidance of Franz Halder, German generals wrote World War II operational studies for the U.S. Army, first as POWs and then as employees.[5] Eberbach was the father of Oberleutnant zur See Heinz-Eugen Eberbach, commander of U-967 and U-230 during World War II.[6]






  • Kienle, Polly (2005). "Still Fighting for the Myth: German Wehrmacht Officers' Reports for the U.S. Historical Division". H-net.com. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. 
  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (2009). Panzers in Normandy: General Hans Eberbach and the German Defense of France, 1944. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-4447-8. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-97968-3. 
  • Stockert, Peter (1996). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1] (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-9802222-7-3. 
  • Wegmann, Günter (2004). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VIIIa: Panzertruppe Band 1: A–E [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part VIIIa: Panzer Force Volume 1: A–E] (in German). Bissendorf, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2322-1. 
Military offices
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
6 January 1942 – 2 March 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Otto Heidkämper
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Otto Heidkämper
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
4 April 1942 – 14 November 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Erich Schneider
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Hans Cramer
Commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps
26 November 1942 – 30 November 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Otto von Knobelsdorff
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz
Commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps
22 October 1943 – 14 November 1943
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Hermann Balck
Preceded by
Waffen SS General Paul Hausser
Commander of 7. Armee
21 August 1944 – 30 August 1944
Succeeded by
General Erich Brandenberger
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